Philadelphia-based coffee roaster La Colombe has passed its final health inspections and will open its first D.C. cafe tomorrow at 8 a.m. in Shaw’s Blagden Alley, right next to Rogue 24.
La Colombe co-founder Todd Carmichael is the star of Dangerous Grounds, a Travel Channel show that follows him around the world on his hunt for the highest-grade coffee. The cafe specializes in farm-direct, single-origin coffees, many of which are highlighted in the show.
Leading up to its D.C. debut, La Colombe has supplied its coffee to a number of area restaurants, including Le Diplomate, CityZen, and Blue Duck Tavern. “We cater to a lot of chefs, help them with their coffee program, supply coffee machines, training,” says general manager Greg Smith. “So we pretty much like to duplicate what we’re going to do in somebody else’s restaurant here.”
Contrary to early plans, the cafe does not currently have a roaster on-site, although there’s a possibility it may have one in the future. Instead, the beans are shipped fresh from La Colombe’s roasting facility in Port Richmond, Pa. The cafe does, however, have another piece of fancy coffee machinery: a Steampunk. The super modern coffeemaker allows baristas to quickly brew a perfect cup. Smith says the steampunk is a particularly great for single-origin coffees. “You just get more of the details when you roast lighter, and this is a really nice way to show them off,” Smith says. “You can dial in your recipe pretty much, so you can cater recipes to individual beans as opposed to ‘OK, we’re just going to hit brew.”
As for food, La Colombe will serve some French pastries. The cafe will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. But laptop users, be warned: There’s no wifi.
Check out some photos below, starting with the Steampunk:
La Colombe, 924 Rear N St. NW (Blagden Alley); lacolombe.com
Photos by Jessica Sidman